About Me

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Early childhood education has been my life for over 30 years. I have taught all age groups from infants to 5-year-olds. I was a director for five years in the 1980s, but I returned to the classroom 22 years ago. My passion is watching the ways children explore and discover their world. In the classroom, everything starts with the reciprocal relationships between adults and children and between the children themselves. With that in mind, I plan and set up activities. But that is just the beginning. What actually happens is a flow that includes my efforts to invite, respond and support children's interface with those activities and with others in the room. Oh yeh, and along the way, the children change the activities to suit their own inventiveness and creativity. Now the processes become reciprocal with the children doing the inviting, responding and supporting. Young children are the best learners and teachers. I am truly fortunate to be a part of their journey.

Sunday, March 3, 2013


I like to bring natural elements into the classroom.  Here are four previous posts that feature natural elements: Wooden Tray and RocksSticks and StonesSwamp II, and Gems, Sticks, and Stones.  I present to you another post that features natural elements: rocks and sticks.  Since I had just finished with Snow Tubes, I decided to keep the clear plastic tubes in the table plus add some little dinosaurs.

The thing about loose materials like the rocks and dinosaurs and various utensils is that they often all get dumped into the table at once.  I guess there should be a second corollary to Axiom #1 on the right-hand column of this blog.  That corollary would read: Children will transport all the loose items provided for play into the table---in very short order.  Actually this operation is important to realize because often we put our own aesthetic on what is really the children's endeavor.

The children, of course, filled the tubes with sand.

Dinosaurs also fit into the tubes nicely.

Rocks did, too, but not all of them.

Three very interesting pursuits from the week are worth noting that demonstrate the ingenuity and wonder children can experience during non-scripted play at the sensory table.

The first was a realization that sand can flow like water making what looks like a waterfall.

Did you hear a second boy say there were three [sand flows]?

The second pursuit happened when I asked a child to move the tube so when he poured sand into it, the sand that missed would not end up on the floor.

I thought it was a reasonable request.  He tried pouring the sand with the tube over the table.

For some reason, though, he did not like the tube in that position.  I think it cramped his pouring style. So he insisted that the tube face the original way.  To my surprise, he also had his own solution for the sand dropping on the floor: put the bucket under the tube.
This episode reminds me of the boss who told his employees that if they came to him with a complaint, they also had to come with a solution to the problem.  This young three-year-old is way ahead of the game.  Imagine the difference in the outcome if I had insisted the tube stay over the table.  We were both happy with the solution and I am sure he felt empowered.

The last pursuit was really an experiment.  A child stuck his hand and part of his arm into one of the clear tubes.  He examines his hand in the tube and then decides to use the tube as an extension of his hand by scooping up the sand with the tube and lifting it in the air so the sand would fall down into his hand.  He was a little surprised at first and proud of what he discovered. Then he proceeded to take a larger and larger scoop of sand with the tube before removing his hand from the tube.  Watch especially how he tracts the sand as he lifts the end of the tube up and the sand falls into his hand and imagine what he must be feeling both in terms of physical sensations and sense of agency. 

Looks like a future engineer to me.

Early in the post, I mentioned the chaos in the table when everything gets dumped into the table. I also said that adult aesthetic is not a child's aesthetic.   I did not mean to imply that they do not have a sense of aesthetics. The children get the last word today with their sense of beauty using natural elements.


1 comment:

  1. Thanks to your amazing blog the children in our Reception class in Manchester England are deeply enhancing their thinking skills. Thank you!